Teri Kanefield @Teri_Kanefield Author, lawyer (U.C. Berkeley). My threads are here: terikanefield-blog.com/ My author website is here: www.terikanefield.com/ Jul. 28, 2019 5 min read

(Thread) What we mean when we say, “It’s about race”

(and sexism and homophobia and fear of difference)

In response to my thread on Trump-GOP-Russia love, @barryszuul, says⤵️, like c'mon, we're still not past that?

Here's a roundup of scholarship giving the answer.

1/ Way #1: The Authoritarian Dynamic

In their essay, “Authoritarianism is Not a Momentary Madness, but an Eternal Dynamic within Liberal Democracies,” in ⤵️ @karen_stenner and @JonHaidt offer a psychological explanation.

2/ An “authoritarian dynamic,” occurs when a person with an “authoritarian disposition” is faced with a “normative threat.”

A person with an “authoritarian disposition” is averse to complexity.

Authoritarians value obedience and conformity over freedom and difference.

3/ Those with authoritarians dispositions have a “bias against different others (racial and ethnic outgroups, immigrants, ‘deviants,’ etc.)

Stenner cites studies showing that across all cultures about 33% of the population has an authoritarian disposition.

4/ This means authoritarianism is “substantially heritable.”

A normative threat is something that threatens “sameness and order."

When confronted with a normative threat, authoritarians have a strong reaction. They become fearful, angry, and cruel.

5/ Trump governs by creating normative threats. He deliberately keeps the authoritarians riled.

Liberal democracy naturally becomes more diverse (for example, by expanding voting rights).

As diversity expands, the conditions arise for a demagogue to stoke their fears.

6/ Hence, a cycle. Democracy expands, authoritarians react.

According to this theory, Trump happened because liberal democracy (diversity) exceeded the capacity of many people to tolerate it.⤵️

Now on to Way #2.

7/ Way #2: MAGA means back to the days without all those pesky regulations.

People are amazed that the Trump-GOP keeps breaking laws.

They are breaking the laws they don’t think should exist.

MAGA means take us back to the age of robber barons. See⤵️

8/ In the 1920s, money laundering, stock market manipulation, predatory loans, etc. were not so illegal.

White men could get rich by grabbing and taking.

Ever since regulatory agencies were established, people have been trying to get rid of them.

They don’t want regulations.

9/ Regulations moved the seat of power from one to the other⤵️
It's not hard to see why some people don't like those regulations.

Way #3: The Paranoid Style in American Politics

10/ Hofstadter conducted a thorough review of American politics from before the founding of the nation to McCarthyism and noticed a pattern among a small impassioned minority on the fringes of the political spectrum.

He called their behavior the “paranoid style” in politics.

11/ He called their behavior the “paranoid style” in politics.

Those embracing the paranoid style of politics believe that unseen satanic forces are trying to destroy something larger in which they belong.

They “feel dispossessed” . . .

12/ . . . and that “America has been largely taken away from them and their kind.”

They are “determined to repossess it and prevent the final act of subversion.” 

They therefore adopt extreme measures, and will stop at nothing to prevent what they see as an impending calamity.

13/ According to Timothy Snyder, Putin realized that Russia could not compete with the West. The EEU could not compete with the EU. NATO had too much power.

So instead of competing in a contest he couldn’t win, Putin set out to make the West like Russia.

14/ Way #5: Because of the nature of our beginnings, race has always been a part of American politics

Native Americans were here first, and much the nation was built with slave labor.

The drafters of the Constitution argued about slavery . . .

15/ . . . and how to count those enslaved for the purpose of apportioning representatives.

The parties have always distinguished themselves based on their attitudes toward race.

Washington and the Federalists told the frontiersmen to stop taking land from the tribes.

16/ Andrew Jackson’s party thought white men should be able to take their land.

In the 1950s, Eisenhower was reluctant to send troops to desegregate schools.

In the 1960s, JFK was not reluctant.

Graham was confused about why this is the case⤵️

17/ He should read pages 165-169 of Max Boot’s book where Boot figured out why. From page 169⤵️

Way #6: Reactionary Politics: Reactionaries (the far right wing) yearn to go backwards to a bygone era which they imagined was better and more orderly.

18/ This chart is still somewhat helpful.

The word “Again” in “Make America Great Again” signals a reactionary slogan.

Do they want to go back before the 1950s (Jim Crow) or before 1863, or all the way back to the 1789?

Whichever you pick wasn't good for minorities or women.

19/ More ways.

Hahl, Kim, & Sivan, in “The Authentic Appeal of the Lying Demagogue,” discuss a “a crisis of legitimacy” explain that a “crisis of legitimacy” happens when people don’t think the government governs on their behalf.

The article here:  https://www.asanet.org/sites/default/files/attach/journals/feb18asrfeature.pdf 

20/ This occurs when they think the “political establishment is favoring new social groups over established groups.”

From Yale Prof. @jasonintrator, those on the far right end of the political spectrum believe nature favors a hierarchy.

21/ When out-groups (minorities) seek equality, some members of the established group believe this means displacing them.

In the words of Harvard Profs. Levitsky and Ziblatt “Ethnic majorities do not give up their dominant status without a fight” ⤵️

22/ Two University. of Kansas profs, David Norman Smith and Eric Allen Hanley, analyzed data from the 2016 American National Election Study.

Their analysis backs this up.
Their article is here:
 https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0896920517740615 

A good summary is here:
 http://criticalsociology.org/the-anger-games-who-voted-for-donald-trump-in-the-2016-election-and-why/ 

23/ They concluded that “Authorities who do not take sides against resented minorities and women are regarded as illegitimate usurpers who favor the “undeserving” over the deserving.”

24/ So there you have it. It’s about hierarchy and patriarchal power (which includes race) and taking us back to a bygone era in America when white men ruled.

End/

(I may add comments or questions)

All my threads are blog posts. You can view this one here:  https://terikanefield-blog.com/what-we-mean-when-we-say-its-about-race/ 


You can follow @Teri_Kanefield.



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